Australia rising scam costs 2019

As of October 2019, Australians have so far lost $118.5 million to scams, which is at $10 million more than what scams cost in 2018 (about $107 million back then).

This data is collected by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) from reports presented by Australian consumers either received by web form submission or over the phone and then published to Scamwatch.

A total $4.5 million has been lost to over 7,000 hacking scams reports received by the ACCC. Last year the number of reports received ACCC was higher at 8,625 but the amount lost was less ($3.2 million). To date, remote access scams have cost Australians $4 million followed by identity theft losses of $3.7 million.

The amount of money lost to identity theft scams, as reported to the ACCC, has grown considerably since 2018, as the amount lost then was $1.5 million. The identity theft scams reports show a increase of 246% in 2019 (from $1.5 million to $3.7 million).

20,000 reported phishing scams have cost $1.2 million so far. Meanwhile, both Malware and ransom-ware attacks resulted in $137,000 lost in 2019.

See the Live Scam Cost Statistics here (from scamwatch.gov.au)

Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is harmful to a computer user. Types of malware can include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware.

Malware

Ransomware is an emerging form of malware that locks the user out of their files or their device, then demands an anonymous online payment to restore access.

Ransomeware

Actual Scam Statistics as seen at 20th December 2019

Scamwatch: Top 10 scams by amount lost
Scamwatch: Top 10 scams by amount lost

Showing stats for ‘All scam types’ for ‘2019’

Scamwatch: Top 10 scams by reports
Scamwatch: Top 10 scams by reports

Showing stats for ‘All scam types’ for ‘2019’

Scamwatch: Delivery Method
Scamwatch: Delivery Method

Showing stats for ‘All scam types’ for ‘2019’

Scamwatch: Amount lost by age group
Scamwatch: Amount lost by age group

Holiday Shopping Scams

With the end of 2019 now close, warnings are coming from government and retailers to watch out for “shopping scams”.

To date, $4 million has been reported lost from nefarious online shopping scams, however Scamwatch results does show that such scams have not necessarily escalated so close at 2019 Christmas time. Back in 2018, March was the month with the highest cash lost from online shopping scams reported, with a cost of $576,434.

The $4 million lost this year through online shopping scams is somewhat higher than the last year at $3.3 million.

The ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard has stated “Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high”.

Delia Rickard also commented that “Some of the most commonly reported products that scammers are attempting to sell this year are shoes, smartphones and tickets to events, with losses from these items so far exceeding half a million dollars”.

Visit the ACCC’s Scamwatch website to learn how to recognise, report and protect yourself from any such scams. The Scamwatch website contains information for both consumers and small business including:

  • The most common scams
  • Other victims’ stories
  • Sensible rules to protect yourself
  • email alerts
  • How and where to report a scam

There is also a free book and guide titles “Little Black Book of Scams” available as download or reading online. The small guide will help you identify and avoid the 10 most common attack methods scammers use to get you.

You are encouraged to subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to get up-to-date scam warnings.

Scamwatch has joined with the OAIC, Stay Smart Online and the eSafety Commissioner to encourage all Australian’s to keep safe and share reports of scams.

Watch out for three common Christmas holiday season scams:

  • Travel scams: Scammers trick you into believing you won a travel prize or scored a great deal on a travel package, such as a cruise. In the past 12 months, nearly $86,000 has been lost to such travel scams, with 1,750 reports to date.
  • Online shopping scams: Scammers will set up “genuine look-alike” online stores to trick you into purchasing goods that do not exist. Such shopping scams may offer legitimate looking discounts and may advertise certain items as the perfect Christmas present for a loved one. Shopping scams have cost Australians more than $1.3 million in the past 12 months, with 6,440 reports to date.
  • Parcel delivery scams: With millions of packages moving across the country for Chistmas, scammers will send fake ‘missed delivery’ notices to anyone. Such scams are aimed at getting people to download malware or ransomware onto their devices, which is often costly to remove; or they may simply target to steal your personal information. Scamwatch has received about 1700 reports of parcel delivery scams like these in the past 12 months.

When making purchases online, consider using a secure payment method – such as PayPal. I would think twice before using virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

Using PayPal is safer than giving your credit card number or bank account information directly to any website you are buying from. Why is that? You keep that important information in one place, at PayPal, instead of spreading it around everywhere you shop with a credit card. Now if something happens, you will not need to cancel your credit cards and update all of your automatic billers. You simply secure your PayPal account by changing your password or card number.